What is digital PR?
Digital PR is an outreach strategy which aims to secure authoritative backlinks to your website from various platforms and news outlets, driving brand awareness and increasing online visibility amongst target audiences.
Sounds like a fancy term for link building, right? Well, there's much more to it than might meet the eye.
Digital PR goes above and beyond typical press releases, bringing search-led data, social media and content marketing into the mix. The line between traditional and digital PR is becoming increasingly blurred, although they do have some key differences.
What’s the difference between traditional PR and digital PR?
Traditional PR has always typically involved reaching out to a carefully built network of journalists across print, radio and television, securing offline space for a brand’s latest press release.
Following the boom of digital, this naturally now also includes a range of online publications. Readership has increasingly moved away from traditional print media to online.
So, in comes digital PR. Digital PR can relate to any kind of success in the digital space that grabs attention, gathers pace and ultimately generates brand awareness - coverage, search engine visibility and organic traffic. At its heart, digital PR is about creating insightful news pieces with engaging hooks or angles to secure coverage and building links on relevant sites. This combines PR, SEO, social media and content marketing.
In both cases, identifying where your audiences are and what they read informs your list of press outlets to contact - depending on your objectives, this could include local, regional or national news outlets, or specific trade publications.
Both offline and digital PR both work to drive brand awareness and position businesses as experts in their industries, but the latter has a distinctly online focus, concerning itself with traffic and SEO metrics like domain authority.
Here’s a closer look at some of the different digital PR techniques that can be used to create engaging news articles that will interest readers, gaining traction with editors and journalists across your target publications in what is an ever-increasingly competitive landscape.
How do you create a digital PR strategy?
Newsjacking is an ‘always on’ approach to digital PR, where live news is tracked for opportunities to react with industry specific commentary or a wider thought leadership piece. Some forward planning can come into play when responding to financial or societal reports with set release dates, but for most industries, it's more of a reactive approach.
This is an incredibly effective way to position your brand and team as experts, and tap into ongoing conversations within your target audiences. Time really is of the essence in newsjacking, as top spots across press will go on a first come, first serve basis, so having a quick, streamlined process in place - from idea generation and commentary write up, to sign off and distribution - is key.
Data is king when it comes to creating informative, interesting thought leadership content. Sources can range from internal sales figures and CRM data, to a simple Google trends search for relevant topics. Obviously, more in-depth or exclusive data can give you an edge when it comes to securing those all important spots ahead of your competition, but sometimes keeping things simple with one or two strong stats can be just as effective!
Insight-led content can be presented in lots of ways - from an eye-catching infographic, to data ranked in a listicle - it’s important you use the right medium that best connects with your target audience. Some recent examples of digital PR we’ve seen success with include listicles ranking the most expensive dog breeds post-lockdown, as well as the Top 10 most ‘Instagrammable’ beaches around the UK which was published by regional press across the country.
Another avenue to explore within digital PR is social media - whether it's used for newsjacking or in a more organic way. In today’s world, news is accessible 24/7 across a plethora of social platforms where we’re able to share, comment and react to stories as they break. So there's always something you can be reacting to, whether it's a viral trend that's made headlines, or a breaking news story.
A social post that generates a lot of interest and engagement can become newsworthy in its own right - take for example The IKEA glass water bottle ad following Ronaldo’s viral anti-Coca-Cola statement ahead of a session of press interviews. This simple reactive post to the viral video made headlines around the globe, and became a viral sensation itself.
Okay, so now we know how traditional and digital PR differ, and a bit more about the different avenues worth exploring, but why should you incorporate a digital PR strategy into your marketing activity? Next up, we take a look at how it can help you and your business achieve greater success.
What are the benefits of digital PR? Why is digital PR important?
- A boost in your brand awareness and reputation: readers, customers and Google all value well-informed, accurate news articles offering insights from experts. This strategic use of content helps to position your brand as an industry leader across topics relevant to your audiences.
- Improved domain authority (DA): securing links from respected, high-authority sources improves the perception of you as a brand - both from a customer’s point of view as well as Google’s. Quality backlinks indicate that your website is a source of excellent, well-informed content.
- It drives traffic to your site: when done right, digital PR can be an incredibly cost effective way of generating website traffic as a result of earned (not paid) press opportunities. Not only can it increase traffic in the short term, it also has long term traffic gains as building authority via securing links from reputable sources can play a role in achieving better search visibility.
Creating highly shareable content that positions you as an expert, like human interest stories or regional lists, not only directs people to your website, it also boosts your presence on social media by building trust and growing engagement rates - it’s a win-win!
- It has the potential to increase sales: although not the main objective of digital PR, increased web traffic and improved brand reputation can indirectly work to boost your bottom line by positioning you as experts in your field, but also as an authority in search results.
- It has trackable results: for a long time, the impact of PR has been notoriously difficult to measure; Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is an old school metric that's fallen out of favour. When it comes to digital PR, software like Google Analytics can track every link click and site visit to do with your campaign. That makes reporting tangible, data-grounded results much easier, and helps to shape future campaigns based on the learnings of what worked well and what didn’t.
Here are some of our favourite examples of digital PR we’ve worked on…
The UK’s top pie-loving cities
For foodservice and agriculture specialists, The Billington Group, we maximised the opportunity British Pie Week brought with it by creating a simple league table of the top pie-loving places around the UK based on Google Search results for ‘Pie’. It was covered across local social media outlets and in online news publications across the regions, and proved incredibly popular on the Group’s own social channels.
The Story of Lockdown Cat Ownership: In Numbers
Pet insurance specialists, 4Paws, were sitting on mountains of data when it came to cost of pet coverage and the most common breeds of cat getting insured, we knew we could put it to good use. We analysed both the most expensive breeds and most popular breeds over the lockdown period, securing them a spot in popular feline publication Katzenworld — one of their most authoritative links!
But remember, there’s more to life than links!
Earning links via digital PR can be a challenge, as even if the news outlets feature your article or comment, it doesn’t always guarantee they’ll include a link to your site.
In some cases, a follow up email asking them to add one in once the piece is live is all it takes, though not always. But not to worry, it’s important to look at the bigger picture when investing in creating SEO-informed content, which is hugely valuable in itself from a rankings, reputation and customer satisfaction point of view.
Our teams of experts across our SEO, content, PR and social media teams are on hand to help create strong, impactful digital PR campaigns for your brand, getting your name in front of your target audiences and positioning you as experts in your field.